One of the areas Dr. Paul Johnston has a special interest in is treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have it, this disorder can have a detrimental impact on your life, and can put you at risk for developing other mental health issues or medical conditions.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a trauma disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as military combat, a violently attack, sexual assault, a serious car accident or the traumatic experience of a loved one, also known as vicarious trauma. It can also be the result of a prolonged traumatic experience, such as domestic violence.
PTSD can affect people of all ages, from young children and teens to adults and seniors.
What Are the Symptoms?
Generally, signs of PTSD appear within a month of the trauma, but sometimes, there’s a delay of months or even years. There are four categories of PTSD symptoms:
1. Flashbacks of the traumatic event or experience. These can happen while you’re asleep or can be triggered by something in your day-to-day life.
2. Avoidance of anything that can trigger memories of the event, for example not wanting to drive a car after a traumatic accident, or trying to emotionally numb themselves by trying to not feel anything at all.
3. Being on edge all the time and having difficulty relaxing. This is known at hyperarousal, and can lead to irritability, insomnia and angry outbursts.
4. Negative thoughts and feelings about yourself and others, guilt, shame and fear. Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed.
PTSD can also cause other mental health problems, like depression, self-medicating with alcohol or drugs and physical symptoms like headaches and dizziness.
How Is PTSD Treated?
It’s important to treat PTSD as soon as you develop symptoms. Our counselling centre in Thunder Bay offers different treatment methods:
• Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), where patients are asked to recall a traumatic memory while the therapist uses external stimulus to direct eye movement.
• Cognitive processing therapy (CPT), which helps you rethink the event to reduce its negative effects.
• Mindfulness based therapy, which helps you refocus on present situations instead of past trauma.